Sunday March 29, 2009No. 4 Alabama Hands No. 1 Softball First SEC Loss
No. 1/1 University of Florida fell to No. 4/5 Alabama in the final game of the weekend series, 6-4, at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Down five heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Gators’ rally came up short, as they collected three runs on junior Francesca Enea’s (Woodland Hills, Calif.) center-field bomb but left two stranded at game’s end.
In a game that last over three hours, the longest of the season, the Gators (34-3, 13-1 SEC) allowed a season-high six runs while making two costly errors in the fifth inning. The Crimson Tide (27-6, 7-4 SEC) ended UF’s 23-game win streak with the two-run victory.
Senior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) shouldered the loss for Florida, allowing five hits and a season-high four walks in 5.0 innings. The righty (18-3) struck out nine and only gave up one earned run. Alabama’s Kelsi Dunne (12-1) threw over 200 pitches to earn the win.
The Gators opened their half of the first with a run to start the game. Sophomore Kelsey Bruder (Corona, Calif.) knocked a one-out single up the middle and senior Ali Gardiner (Waccabuc, N.Y.) drew a walk to put runners on first and second. With two down, junior Corrie Brooks (Christmas, Fla.) nailed a single up the middle to score Bruder, who was hustling all the way.
Alabama evened the game in the fourth as pinch runner Jennifer Fenton crossed the plate on an RBI by Brittany Rogers. Ashley Holcombe began the inning with a one-out single through the right side. Kellie Eubanks walked and Jazelyn Lunceford reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Rogers hit a grounder to third to score Fenton as sophomore Megan Bush (Anaheim Hills, Calif.) tagged third for the unassisted out. Nelson struck out Kelley Montalvo to end the inning and leave two Bama runners on base.
The Tide took the lead in the top of the fifth, knocking in three runs. With the bases loaded on a walk, an error and a bunt single, Nelson got Whitney Larsen looking for the first out. Holcombe grounded to third but Brooks mishandled the ball, allowing Charlotte Morgan to cross the plate with the go-ahead run. Nelson then got Eubanks looking to out number two. Lunceford came through for Bama with a two-run single up the middle to give her team a 4-1 lead.
Sophomore Stephanie Brombacher (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) came into relieve Nelson in the top of the sixth. After hitting the first batter, the righty struck out the next two but gave up a single to Parker to score a run. Brombacher finished the inning by getting Holcombe looking to keep it a four-run game.
Pinch hitter sophomore Tiffany DeFelice (Coral Springs, Fla.) came through with a two-out base hit in the sixth, but could not advance as Dunne got freshman Alicia Sisco (Cooper City, Fla.) swinging to end the inning. Alabama added another run to its lead in the seventh as Lunceford nailed a triple to right center. Kelley Montalvo knocked her in with a double to center field. Freshman center fielder Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) made a running grab for the third out to end the inning.
The Gators tried to mount a comeback in their last at bat. Sophomore Aja Paculba (Wildomar, Calif.) started the seventh with a walk and advanced to third when Bruder smoked a double down the right-field line. With one down, Enea launched the first pitch of her at bat over the scoreboard in center field to bring Florida within two. Brooks and Bush both drew walks, but another Dunne strikeout put UF on the ropes. Moultrie gave the ball a ride, forcing Lunceford to the wall, but the right fielder made the catch to end the game.
Brombacher allowed two runs on three hits. She did not give up a walk, while striking out four in her two innings of relief. Dunne allowed six hits and four earned runs while walking seven and striking out 13 in her complete-game win.
The Gators travel to Auburn to take on the Tigers in a doubleheader on Wednesday, April 1 with the first game slated to beginat 5 p.m. (ET). Game one will be televised on Cox Sports.